Jazz Spectrum 91

Saturdays at 9:00 p.m.

Hosted by Fritz Byers, Jazz Spectrum 91 is designed as an anthology, a loose and flowing tour through the history of the music, showcasing the wondrous diversity of jazz and the virtuosity of the musicians who play it. The notion of jazz history, in any formal sense, is problematic, since the best recordings are timeless, tied not so much to time and place as to personal and collective inspiration, which, like all thunderclaps of genius, defy tidy explanation. Jazz is marked, at once, both by limitless innovation and enormous discipline, and it is this tension -- between the individual and the group, between form and invention -- that makes jazz such a source of boundless fascination. And joy.

  • Views: 676 This Week on Jazz Spectrum 91

    September 13, 2014 - This week we showcase new releases by the organist Akiko and the saxophonist Dawan Muhammad.  The featured song is "I Should Care," written in 1944 by Sammy Cahn, Alex Stordahl, and Paul Weston.

    September 20, 2014 - Tonight we feature the trumpeter Rod McGaha and his new release, The Black Flower Project, a showcase for his composing as well as his improvising.  The featured song is the Gershwins' "But Not For Me."

  • Jazz Spectrum Playlist - September 13, 2014

    Set 1

    Dawan Muhammad, Preachin to the Choir, "Acknowledgment," "Resolution," "Pursuance"

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  • Jazz Spectrum - Best of 2013

    Best of 2013

    It took a bumper sticker to show me, graphically, what I’ve always suspected: Art is at the center of Earth. Embattled though our planet is, it offers, in a bewilderingly widening stream, the endless innovations of art. Demographics may be, as has been said, just another form of lie. But in this list of fifty notable recordings from 2013, you’ll find a striking diversity of age, style, creed, training, technique, sound, and vision – jazz. (* denotes a special favorite.)

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  • Views: 83 Jazz Spectrum - Best of 2012

    Best of 2012

    Sometimes I imagine jazz musicians as a flock of scavengers in reverse, flying over the whole vast history of the music to sort among its many diverse bodies and dispensing new life to work once thought dead.  A couple of decades ago, Gary Giddins used the phrase “neo-classical eclecticism” to describe the then-current mood of jazz.  That was apt then, and remains so: so much is going on in the music these days that its seems as linear as a Mobius Strip.  And we all remember how cool that was to discovery.  Here are 50 releases from the year – the odds are excellent that you’ll find some things to surprise and engage you. (* denotes a special favorite.)

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  • Views: 169 Jazz Spectrum - Best of 2011

    Best of 2011

    In listening back over a year’s worth of releases, I keep thinking of the tagline from James Toback’s movie, Black and White:  “What if you mixed everything up.”  That’s how this year sounds to me.  “Eclectic” doesn’t quite capture it.  Neither does “multi-genre,” or its close (and possibly clichéd) sibling, “genre-bending.”  Let’s just say that jazz this year is mixed with all sorts of influences, taking whatever works, wherever it’s found. And making it all new.  Just like always. Happy New Year.

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  • Views: 300 Jazz Spectrum - Best of 2010

    Best of 2010

    Jazz, despite murmurs of its demise, remains vibrant, diverse, intriguing, and irresistible.  Major jazz labels are shriveling if not dying, but new and wonderful music continues to issue in a widening stream.  Here are 50 releases from the year that struck me as especially memorable.  (* denotes special favorites.)

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  • Views: 403 Jazz Spectrum - Best of 2009

    BEST OF 2009

    Fritz Byers selects 50 new jazz recordings from 2009 that stood out for their innovation, virtuosity, and beauty.

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  • Views: 785 The Alchemy of Scott Lafaro, by Kim Kleinman

    The bassist Scott Lafaro's voice -- fresh, vibrant, and melodic -- transformed the instrument and its role in jazz.  Working with artists as diverse as Bill Evans and Ornette Coleman, created pure gold in a form of artistic alchemy. Kim Kleinman considers Lafaro's achievement.

  • Views: 802 Honoring Blue Mitchell, by Fritz Byers

    The trumpeter Blue Mitchell created a substantial body of tasteful, expressive, and affecting music, including a series of recordings in the 50s and 60s for Riverside and Blue Note that document a sensibility of consistent excellence and appealing reserve.  Fritz Byers honors Mitchell's memory.

  • Views: 631 Jim Hall - An Appreciation, by Fritz Byers

    For fifty years, Jim Hall has been making jazz.  His accumulated body of work is rich, fluid, and marked by sustained excellence.  It also reflects Hall's relentless inventiveness.  Fritz Byers considers Hall's career.